Governor Laura Kelly’s budget recommendation for the inflation adjustment in the phase-in period of the school funding formula appears to get in the ballpark of what the Kansas Supreme Court has said is necessary for compliance, according to a blog post from the Vice President for Advocacy with the Kansas Association of School Boards.
“All of this comes back to the goal of trying to get our school funding roughly back to where it was in 2009, after you adjust for inflation,” said Mark Tallman. “It appears the Governor’s budget, on operating dollars, does get close to that area. I say close, because we’re kind of making assumptions that inflation will be a little bit more than that 1.44 percent. It could be a little lower, it could be a little higher. This is kind of an approximation.”
The Legislature has already approved increases that appear to be around $400 million between now and the end of 2023.
“What we’re kind of talking about here is just, what some people call the school finance part of it, which is what funds the BASE amount per pupil, special education, things like that,” said Tallman. “This doesn’t include the KPERS piece.”
The political fight over KPERS reamortization has sort of taken the focus off of the actual numbers of the inflation adjustment. Governor Kelly wants to get a solution, whatever it is, to the Kansas Attorney General’s office by the end of February.
“The Supreme Court has already set schedules for briefs and arguments,” said Tallman. “I know the state attorneys always want time to defend whatever the Legislature’s done. We’re trying to kind of, I guess, bring attention back to this question. We still have this court order hanging over us that is going to have to be resolved. Here is one path to trying to address it. We don’t know for sure what the court would do, but this is at least, a place to start.”
Once the five-year phase in period finishes, the current formula has an inflation adjustment based on the previous three years of the Midwest Consumer Price Index.